Some might consider that listing hobbies on your resume is unprofessional, but if those hobbies are genuine and contribute to the human element of your application, then they can be a potent job search weapon. When you want to build a connection with a hiring manager, discovering a shared interest outside of work can be valuable. In any case, adding an extra dimension to your application is not a bad thing.
Having said that, don't go overboard. Carelessly listing hobbies in resume takes up valuable space and could put a hiring manager off, rather than intriguing them. They have to be relevant for the role.
What this article will cover:
- How (and when) to list hobbies in resume sections
- Choosing attractive hobbies that overlap with your skillset
- How to align your hobbies section with a particular job or company
- Examples of hobbies you should (and shouldn’t) include on your resume
Should you add hobbies on a resume?
There are many aspects of a resume that are compulsory, but the hobbies section is not one of them. The blog will explore the somewhat complicated issues of the matter, but the bottom line is that you should only include your hobbies if they are somehow relevant for the role.
The worst time to add hobbies is when you do not have much to say about your experience and want to fill up the page. If your resume is that sparse, you need the summary, work experience and skills sections to work extra hard, so dedicate your efforts there. An interesting couple of lines for hobbies is the icing on the cake of a great application - it will never be a core consideration to invite someone to interview.
One thing to consider when listing hobbies is that it demonstrates a commitment to an activity where you are constantly striving to learn and improve your skills. This is a valuable quality in many workplaces. If relevant, indicate your level of proficiency in the hobby and maybe how long you have been doing it.
How and when to list hobbies on your resume
How and when to list hobbies in a resume comes down to thinking like a hiring manager.
Employers seek candidates who have soft skills — like attention to detail, willingness to take on new challenges, communicating well with a team — in addition to specific hands-on experience or training.
If your leisure activities indirectly check these boxes, they could have a place on your resume. Hobbies in resume can also paint a picture of your personality and energy, giving you that precious edge above the rest of the resume pile. Have a think about how someone else might view your hobby (not what you think about it). What are the common opinions about the hobby? Would the hiring manager consider it to be a positive for your application?
Your resume is your ticket to an in-person interview. It should reflect who you are and why you’re the person to come chat about the open role. Check out these tips for listing hobbies in resume in a way that makes you sound like someone an employer would want to have on its team.
Here is a step-by-step approach to listing hobbies:
- Customize your resume with hobbies and skills that relate to the position
- Write in a compact list similar to the skills section
- Vary your hobbies to show balance but don’t overshare
- Avoid listing hobbies that are too personal or politically polarizing
- List hobbies on your resume toward the bottom
- List 2-3 hobbies at most
Is it good to mention hobbies in a resume? Yes, for sure, if you feel like it. Be confident in yourself. So many hiring processes are delving deeper into personal motivations, so including your personal interests is fair game.
How do you represent hobbies on a resume? Some may choose to simply put a list of 2-3 hobbies on one line of text, but if you have more to say for each hobby (and it may be beneficial to do so), then you can write something like this:
- Chess - won state championship three years in a row from 2011-2014
- Sailing - led a team that sailed non-stop to Hawaii and raised $90k for charity
- Programming - helped create a number of websites for various youth sports clubs
How to choose attractive hobbies that overlap with your skillset
The best hobbies in a resume are those that shine a light on your best traits while staying honest and relevant. Each hobby should reflect skills that could come in handy on the job. Start by understanding the soft skills woven throughout the job posting. Examples might include:
- Focus under pressure - downhill skiing, yoga, darts,
- Ability to meet tight deadlines - baking, computer games, crosswords
- Delegating tasks to a team - paintball, football, youth sports
- Budget and finance - travel, volunteering, antique collecting
Downhill skiing suggests focus under pressure, for example, while team sports and volunteer work highlight your strengths at teamwork. If you can’t link your hobby to a conversation that may arise in an interview — such as your button-collecting enthusiasm — leave it off.
When it comes to describing your interests during an interview, try not to be too obsessive with yout passion. The hiring manager wants to hear you enthuse about the role. If you share how your mind is filled with thoughts abiut button collecting, your potential boss would be justified in wondering just how much you might daydream about it in the workplace.
Note: There’s always the chance that this list may spark a conversation during your interview. If your interviewer also loves downhill skiing, you’ll want to be able to hold your own in a conversation. Only choose hobbies in a resume that you’re truly passionate about. Hobbies are optional, so if you don't have a genuine or relevant hobby, you're better off skipping hobbies in resume.
How many hobbies should you put on a resume? Just because you list one hobby doesn't mean that you have to add a couple more to make yourself look more rounded. There is always a risk that your future employer asks about the one that you are less interested in, and then you are in trouble. If you only have one main hobby (and that is one more than many of us), simply share a little bit more detail about it.
Where do you list your hobbies?
Hobbies in a resume could give you an edge over the other candidates in the pile. At the same time, your work history and education take precedence over your activities outside the office. Place your hobbies toward the end of your resume or on a sidebar that includes extra info, depending on the resume template you use.
List hobbies on your resume in a dedicated section with bullet points only if your resume is light on relevant experience. Previous work experience, even if it’s outside your career path, as well as internships and education, will carry more weight than hobbies.
Keep your bullet points clean and succinct, while including interesting information that directly reflects how it relates to you are as a person and an employee. You do not have to include extra information, however. Only do this if it adds significant context to the impact of the hobby on your working life.
If your hobbies include things like volunteer work or a side gig, consider incorporating those experiences in a “Volunteering” section or within your work experience, as they’re likely to get more attention there than in a hobbies section.
Should I fill in the hobbies section of an online application form? Sometimes there are sections for hobbies in online application forms. The same applies for your resume - leave this blank unless you have a hobby that is relevant for the role and adds more information about your personal fit. Certainly don't make anything up.
Examples of hobbies in resume that impress the most
Let’s check out some of the most commonly listed hobbies and how to frame them in a job-friendly way.
Volunteering / board membership. Specificity is key when listing the experience on your resume — but volunteering in general can give you a leg up. A recent study found that 82% of hiring managers prefer applicants with volunteer experience. It speaks to your dedication toward a team, community and reaching long-term goals for the greater good.
Photography. Photographers use both the left and right sides of their brain, composing creatively balanced images while understanding the intricate workings of a camera. Include photography under hobbies only if it’s a personal passion. If photography and training is part of your work experience or the job requirements, then you should elaborate more on photography in the work experience section.
Team sports. Dedication to team sports shows strong communication skills, an ability to work well under pressure, teamwork ability, and a focus on work-life balance. Business Insider reported that members of team sports teams tend to thrive in corporate offices. If you are involved in several sports teams throughout the year, try to find a way to summarize the activity in a few words without oversharing.
Writing and blogging. Blogging or writing within your industry is an excellent way to demonstrate your writing, editing and marketing skills via hobbies on your resume. Maintaining a well-researched and proofread blog proves critical thinking, connection to the industry and self-driven career actions.
It’s not essential to go into significant detail about any of your hobbies unless you have something really amazing to share. For example, “Running marathons” is impressive enough, but ”Have run 100 marathons” is much more so. You could mention “Chess” if you’re a weekend patzer, but if you’re an “International Chess Master,” you might want to mention it.
What should you never include in a resume? There are too many taboo topics to mention here, but it is safe to say that if you would not be happy with the entire office hearing about a certain hobby, then it certainly should not be included in your resume. Definitely keep politics and religion at arm's length in your job search, no matter how much they matter to you. That can be left until after a few drinks on a Friday night with select work mates.
Today’s workforce views personality and work-life balance as an asset in the office. If the hobbies in resume tell the story of a person ready to take on your dream job, by all means, include them on your resume. Listing hobbies on your resume can:
- Tell a comprehensive story in a short sentence or phrase
- Suggest soft skills relatable to the position
- Spark a potential (and positive) conversation during an interview that can be tied back to the job
Even if skydiving is your escape from work, it could be the key to a fantastic resume.
Begin thinking about hobbies in resume by comparing your list of hobbies to the job description.
When you find a clear overlap, listing resume hobbies could be winning ticket to a job interview.